AES E-Library

AES E-Library

Designing sound system in-band headroom based on expected difference between C- and A-weighted levels

Sound pressure level (SPL) is the standard metric for regulations regarding environmental noise exposure. Because performances are often regulated by their A-weighted sound level, it is tempting to think that A-weighted level should be the primary design consideration for sound system headroom. Because A-weighting disregards significant low-frequency energy, it is possible to create a wide variety of spectra with the same A-weighted level, but each having a different spectral shape and C-weighted level. While regulators correlate excessive A-weighted levels with hearing damage, A-weighted levels are less well correlated with community annoyance. The Netherlands has recognized this and created a permitting system incorporating the difference between C- and A-weighted sound levels (C-A) as a measure of low-frequency content. This Brief gives supporting evidence for the correlation between C-A levels and different musical genres and offers complementary design guidance corresponding to sound system headroom with emphasis on in-band levels.

Open Access


AES Convention: eBrief:
Publication Date:

Download Now (584 KB)

This paper is Open Access which means you can download it for free.

Learn more about the AES E-Library

The Engineering Briefs at this Convention were selected on the basis of a submitted synopsis, ensuring that they are of interest to AES members, and are not overly commercial. These briefs have been reproduced from the authors' advance manuscripts, without editing, corrections, or consideration by the Review Board. The AES takes no responsibility for their contents. Paper copies are not available, but any member can freely access these briefs. Members are encouraged to provide comments that enhance their usefulness.

Start a discussion about this paper!

AES - Audio Engineering Society